Sunderland College works in partnership with employers across the health and life science sector to support students in preparing for a successful future career and provide this specialist industry with a skilled workforce.
Students studying a science A-Level, BTEC Applied Science or health and social care course, undertake a variety of placements to experience the world of work, from short placements (between 15 hours and 37 hours) to industry placements, which involve 315 hours of real work experience per academic year with an employer.
42 science and health students at the college have successfully completed CDF (Capital Investment Fund) placements. This Department for Education work experience pilot was introduced to prepare for the work-based element of the new T-Level qualifications, which include a substantial industry placement. The pilot has enabled the college to extend its employer engagement to source additional placements for its students and pilot longer placements within existing courses.
Students studying a science A-Level or a BTEC Applied Science course at the college take part in placements, which are tailored to their career ambitions. The students, who gain experience in a range of setting including GP surgeries, laboratories and pharmacies, are often provided with opportunities for further development by their employer such as additional qualifications or part-time employment.
As part of their qualification, health and social care students dedicate one day a week to placements. They gain 100 hours of work experience throughout the academic year in settings such as local schools including SEND providers, nurseries, care homes and local charities focusing on mental health and special needs.
18-year-old Lorna Dixon from Southwick is a second year Level 3 Health and Social Care student. In her first year she undertook a placement at Portland Academy, a special academy school in Sunderland, which she found very rewarding. In her second year, her placement at Willow Brook, an independent care home setting for the over 55s in Washington, was part of an intergenerational project. Lorna, who also works as a part-time carer alongside her studies, said:
“I enjoyed my placement at Portland Academy so much that I have re-considered my original career path of becoming a midwife, to working with those who have mental health issues and special needs.
“Placements are important for students as it gives you a taste of a future career in a professional environment and you can find out whether or not you like it. It also gives you an idea of what working life is like and the expectations and standards in the workplace.”
During her placement at Willow Brook, Lorna engaged with the residents and planned activities, such as arts and crafts, afternoon tea and reminiscing with them about old photographs, so they could interact with one another and combat social isolation. She added:
“My placement at Willow Brook has really helped to improve my communication skills and engage with other people.”
The college has a dedicated placement officer for health and social care students, Fiona McBrayne. She said:
“Placement are vital to our students’ development and progression. For a vocational course such as health and social care, placements are just as important as classroom learning. It provides our students with first-hand experience of working in the sector. Our students learn the core value and skills that are required for a successful career in the industry and they also find out about the different job roles and variety of career paths that this dynamic sector can offer them.”
For more information about courses at Sunderland College, or if you are an employer interested in offering a young person a placement, visit www.sunderlandcollege.ac.uk
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